Former Bush Donors Giving to Obama

The general consensus the last several years, coming from the extremes of both parties, has been that there is no middle, no swing voters, and that us independents don’t matter. The predominant political strategy, used to great success for a small moment in history by Karl Rove, was to motivate the base to get out to vote and forget about attracting swing voters. I had been in the minority arguing against this view, which really only makes sense to those whose political memories does not go back before the Bush and Clinton years. The 2006 election was the ultimate proof of the error of this view, and there have been many other examples.

The success of Barack Obama in defeating Hillary Clinton for the nomination by bringing in so many of us independents who supposedly did not exist, as well as more disenchanted Republicans, is the ultimate proof that concentrating only on your party’s base is not a good long term strategy. It is too early to see the evidence of a swing in votes which I believe will occur this November, but the next best thing might be to follow the money.

McClatchy looked at who former Bush contributors were donating to this year and found that many moderate Republicans are backing Barack Obama:

Beverly Fanning is among the campaign donors who’ll be joining President Bush at a gala at Washington’s Ford’s Theater Sunday night, but she says that won’t dissuade her from her current passion: volunteering for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

She isn’t the only convert. A McClatchy computer analysis, incomplete due to the difficulty matching data from various campaign finance reports, found that hundreds of people who gave at least $200 to Bush’s 2004 campaign have donated to Obama.

Among them are Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughter of the late GOP President Richard Nixon and wife of late GOP President Dwight Eisenhower’s grandson; Connie Ballmer, the wife of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer; Ritchie Scaife, the estranged wife of conservative tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife and boxing promoter Don King.

Many of the donors are likely “moderate Republicans or independents who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country now and are looking for change,” said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College in Maine who specializes in campaign finance.

“There is a large block of Republicans, particularly economic conservatives, who just feel that the Republican Party in Washington completely let them down” by failing to control spending and address other problems, Corrado said. “The Republicans have really given these donors no reason to give.”

Lawyer Allen Larson of Yarmouthport, Mass., a political independent, contributed $2,000 to Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, but said he gave Obama the maximum $2,300 in hopes he can use his “unique skills” to rebuild fractured foreign alliances.

Not only does this illustrate the failure of George Bush, but also shows the failure of John McCain to convince many that he is a different type of Republican. If somehow Hillary Clinton manages to steal the nomination, they will certainly go back and support John McCain as the lesser evil, but Obama is the only candidate who can bring in wide scale support from most Democrats (possibly minus the socially conservative, racist, and populist elements still backing Clinton) as well as independents and disenchanted Republicans.

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